Archiving and backing up your data is essential for any modern business. Both forms of storage take advantage of cloud, making simple and inexpensive for small companies to streamline their data.

But it is easy to make mistakes; many businesses do not realise that backup and archiving must be dealt with separately. While archiving is for long term storage, such as the information that you're required to keep; backup is used to quickly recover your everyday information and restore systems in the event of a disaster, such as a fire or human error.

Big data

The huge amounts of data produced on a daily basis can be overwhelming. According to IDC's Digital Universe study, there will be 40 Zettabytes (ZB- 1 billion terabytes) of data globally by 2020. This exceeds even previous forecasts by 14%.

The report says that 2.8ZB of data was created and replicated in 2012, and the global amount of data will double every two years between now and 2020. This will be equivalent to approximately 5,247GB of data per person.

Amid this increasingly complex landscape, many small firms are making the error of using backup solutions to implement their data archiving strategy. Backup data comprises all immediate information related to the business, which should be kept on servers and backed up. Data can be backed up to tape - an option that's becoming increasingly popular - or on a disc, or a combination of the two.

Archiving data

When determining your archived information, you must assess which data you want to keep, how long you want to keep it, and decide who will have access to it.

The best practice 3-2-1 approach to storage is the best way to keep archived data safe. It involves having three copies on two different technologies, keeping one copy offsite on removable media. This maximises IT resources, and using two types of storage media such as tape and CD means you get faster access when you need it.

The third copy of archived data can be stored offsite with a cloud provider such as Dell, which will lower costs dramatically, as well as saving on power consumption and the cost of additional physical media. Cloud is thought of as ideal for archived data, as the slower access usually required reduces the cost of the storage. It is also used for backup, but if you need regular, fast access it will be more expensive.

Cloud is often viewed as less secure than other means of storage, but in many cases it can actually be more robust. Cloud storage is only as secure as the provider, so small firms that do their research and use a reputable provider will be protected.

Data archiving and backup is essential for all small companies. As amounts of data surge, those that implement the 3-2-1 best practice for archiving - while backing up all immediate data - will be well on the way to coping.